The Indianapolis Colts face a tough task in their first week match-up against the Chicago Bears tomorrow (1pm EDT, Sunday). Not only are they playing at the always hostile Soldier Field, but they are also 10-point underdogs with most sportsbooks.
Will the Colts be able to overcome this deficit or will rookie QB Andrew Luck’s (pictured) debut be spoiled by the formidable front four of the Bears defensive line?
Andrew Luck: First Round Stud or First Round Dud?
To put betting numbers and fantasy numbers aside for a moment, the biggest question on everyone’s minds is how will Luck, the Colts first overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, play in his NFL debut?
While the 22-year-old rookie still has a lot to prove in terms of NFL ability, he did have a successful preseason by the Colts standards and of course, he didn’t get chosen as the number one overall pick because there wasn’t anything there.
Many believe Luck will in fact have a good NFL career and even a solid rookie season.
The only problem is that in his first regular season game as an NFL quarterback, he has to face up against one of the best defenses and a team that believes they can challenge for the 2013 Superbowl in the Chicago Bears.
Andrew Luck vs. the Chicago Bears Defense
Over the past seven years, the Bears defense has absolutely dominated quarterbacks of every level in their season openers. Last season, they also managed to hold the Atlanta Falcons, with one of the league’s better QBs in Matt Ryan, without an offensive touchdown. It was the third time in the last seven years they managed this feat.
Even with going against a touted list of current and past NFL greats including Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford, the Bears have shut down their opponents allowing just seven total offensive touchdowns in their openers in the past seven years. During that time, the most points the Bears gave up was just 21.
So yes, the Bears defense is that good and unfortunately for Luck, the Colts offense might just be that bad.
Even though Luck is a great potential talent, the Colts really don’t have many offensive pieces for him to throw too. WR Pierre Garson left in the offseason, TE Jacob Tamme is also not with the team and then there is the guy snapping Luck the ball, whose name is no longer pro bowl center Jeff Saturday.
Will the Bears Score Enough to Beat the Spread?
This is where it gets tricky. Even though the Bears are fielding a solid defense and likely will relatively keep Luck off of the score sheet, it is their offense that could be questionable. While they have a pretty solid offense, will it be enough to spot the Colts 10 points?
Although these are last season’s results I am referencing, I would say that they have a pretty good shot at it. You see the thing was that when the Bears were good last year, they were really, really good.
In eight wins last year the Bears scored: 30, 34, 39, 24, 30, 37, 31 and 17 points. Their margin of victory in those games was 18, 5, 29, 6, 6, 14, 9 and 4.
While these numbers may not be promising for someone intending to bet on the Bears, their offense has changed from last year as they added one very important piece to the receiving core.
BetOnline Betting Lines (accepts all USA clients):
-115 Colts +10pts, -105 Bears -10pts
Bet365 Bookmaker odds (for UK & all non-USA residents):
20/23 Colts +10pts, 20/21 Bears -10pts
Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall vs. the Colts Defense
With Brandon Marshall now in Chicago, the Bears’ offense instantly becomes that much better. Not only do they have another great WR to add to their already solid tandem featuring Earl Bennett and Devin Hester, but in Marshall they have someone who will make Jay Cutler a better QB.
In the past, Cutler has had untimely injuries which have hurt the Bears and their playoff hopes. This season however he is coming in perfectly healthy and to add to that, he has gotten better in terms of accuracy and decisions in the past few years as well. The biggest plus however for him will be confidence and for Cutler, there is no better way to boost his confidence than to reunite him with his favorite wide receiver from their Denver days, Brandon Marshall.
These two have combined to score 13 touchdowns in parts of two seasons together and are expected to combine for even more on a better offensive team like the Bears. Add that to the fact that the Colts defense is entirely in rebuilding mode, and it gives the Bears offense a great shot at scoring 30 points.
Final Thoughts: Injury Reports and Home Field Advantage
- Austin Collie (concussion) is a game-time decision for the Colts. In three seasons with the Colts, Collie has been one of the team’s most productive wide receivers. He has scored 16 touchdowns in 41 games played. Now with Reggie Wayne in decline (just 10 touchdowns in the past two seasons) and Pierre Garcon no longer with the team, Collie becomes this team’s go-to receiver when healthy. I emphasize that last part when healthy because Collie has had four concussions so far in his short career. Even if he plays Sunday, it is a wonder how effective he can be as he has been sidelined for most of the preseason.
- The Bears at home are even better than the Bears on the road. Soldier Field is as hostile an environment to play in as any stadium in the NFL. Just the name, Soldier Field, gives off an intimidating feeling. The Bears lost just three of their eight home games there in each of the past three seasons including victories in each of their home openers.
- Brian Urlacher (knee) is listed as probable for the game. The pro bowl linebacker has been one of the most dominant forces in the NFL for years and the Bears’ defense is that much better when he plays. Last season he had three interceptions and recorded another 102 tackles to add to his lofty career totals.
Colts v Bears Betting Picks Verdict
The Bears will most likely walk away as winners for the game as they boast one of the NFL’s best ‘complete’ teams this season. In order for you to win with the Bears pick them to cover the spread. Bet on The Bears -10pts with BetOnline Sportsbook (at odds of -105) and Bovada (odds of -110, that is 10/11 in fractional betting).